Swimming to Cambodia
Swimming to Cambodia, also known as Spalding Gray's Swimming to Cambodia, is a 1987 American concert film written by and starring Spalding Gray, and directed by Jonathan Demme. The performance film is of Gray's play and monologue, which centered on such themes as his trip to Southeast Asia to create the role of the U.S. Ambassador's aide in the film The Killing Fields, the Cold War, Cambodia Year Zero, and his search for his "perfect moment".
|Swimming to Cambodia|
|Directed by||Jonathan Demme|
|Written by||Spalding Gray|
|Music by||Laurie Anderson|
|Edited by||Carol Littleton|
The Swimming Company
|Distributed by||Cinecom Pictures|
Over a period of two years, Gray originally developed Swimming to Cambodia as a theatre performance piece. The original running time of the performance was a total of four hours long, and it was presented over two nights. Gray received a Special Citation for this work at the 1985 Obie Awards.
The opening shots of the film show Gray walking toward The Performing Garage in New York City. He goes in and, after walking past the audience, he takes a seat behind a table. On the table is a glass of water, a microphone, and a notebook, the latter brought by Gray. Behind him are two pull-down maps. One is a map of Southeast Asia and the other is a diagram of the bombing of Cambodia, which Gray tells the viewers/audience was called Operation Breakfast. There is also a back-lit projection screen showing a photograph of a beach.
Gray performs a monologue in which he discusses his experiences filming a small role in the film The Killing Fields. He also expounds on the recent history of Cambodia up through the rise to power of the Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian genocide. Three scenes from The Killing Fields that feature Gray are shown at various points in the film.
The soundtrack for the film was composed and performed by Laurie Anderson, who would also score Gray's follow-up film, Monster in a Box. Gray returned the favor by providing the voice of a TV interviewer for her 1986 short film, What You Mean We?. No soundtrack album was released; Anderson later reused music from the film for a series of "Personal Service Announcements" which she produced in 1989 to promote her album, Strange Angels.
Swimming to Cambodia was released in the UK on region 2 DVD on March 16, 2015, by Simply Media.